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1. “¿Qué es deportar?”: Teaching from Students’ Lives

Guest BloggerWe at LEE & LOW BOOKS believe that high-quality bilingual books help build a solid foundation to achieve literacy in any language while affirming and validating a child’s identity, culture, and home language. We are so excited and honored to share this one educator’s example of why books featuring characters like her students belong in her classroom and curriculum.

In this guest post, Sandra L. Osorio describes using books that captured her students’ bilingual and bicultural experiences. An elementary bilingual teacher for eight years, Osorio is now an assistant professor at Illinois State University. This article originally appeared in Rethinking Schools magazine, and is cross-posted here with permission. Article is also available in Spanish from Rethinking Schools.


I was sitting around a kidney-shaped table with Alejandra, Juliana, and Lucia, 2nd graders who had chosen to read Del Norte al Sur (From North to South) by René Colato Laínez. I read the book’s introduction out loud, which included the word deportado (deported). I asked my students: “¿Qué es deportar? ¿Ustedes saben qué significa?” (What is deported? Do you know what it means?) Lucia looked straight at me and said, “Como a mi tío lo deportaron”. (Like my uncle, they deported him.)

For an inclusive bilingual classroomOur class was part of a developmental bilingual program with all native Spanish speakers. I had introduced literature discussions the previous year when I had the same students in 1st grade, but now I was carefully choosing books with themes I thought would resonate with my students’ lives, including the complexities of being bilingual and bicultural. In Del Norte al Sur, José desperately misses his mother, who has been deported to Tijuana because she doesn’t have the right papers to be in the United States. I knew that some of my students were also missing members of their families. One student’s father had been deported back to Mexico and he had not seen him in years. Another student’s father had separated from her mother and moved to a city more than three hours away. I hoped these two students would connect with José’s problems and begin to talk about their feelings. I soon learned that many other students shared similar feelings and experiences.

Although immigration is passionately debated in the media, it is an issue often ignored in schools, even though it’s central to the lived experiences of Latina/o children—even those born in the United States. This was something I didn’t realize until I created space for students’ lives in the curriculum.

I originally decided to teach bilingual students because of the struggles I had faced as a bilingual child myself. I attended a bilingual (Spanish-English) preschool, but when my parents enrolled me in a private, English-only kindergarten, they were told to immediately stop speaking Spanish to me because it would “confuse me.” This was surprising to my parents—I had not even entered the classroom yet. My parents made the decision to continue to speak Spanish in our household; they wanted me to be able to communicate with our extended family in Colombia. I am grateful for this decision because it allowed me to grow up bilingual and maintain ties to my bicultural heritage.

At school, I don’t remember ever reading a story with a main character who was bilingual or bicultural. Because Latina/o culture and people were invisible in the curriculum, I felt I had to keep my Spanish language knowledge at home and hidden from my teachers and classmates.

I did not want another generation of students to feel like I did. I wanted to help students build and nurture their cultural and linguistic pride. I wanted to make sure that bilingual students were held to the same high expectations as other students. And I wanted them to understand that they did not have to give up their home language to be successful.

So I fulfilled my dream and became a teacher. All of my students were emergent bilinguals who spoke Spanish as their home language and were born in the United States, many in the same town where our school is located. Of my 20 students, 16 were of Mexican descent, three were Guatemalan, and one child had one Guatemalan parent and one Mexican parent.

Bilingual Isn’t Necessarily Bicultural

Our program was supposed to be one of academic enrichment, using both the students’ native language and English for academic instruction. The primary goal was development of biliteracy. In 2nd grade, 70 percent of the school day was to be in Spanish and 30 percent in English. But since 3rd graders in the program were not “making benchmark” on state tests, I was pressured to introduce more English in my 2nd-grade classroom.

For the first couple of years I was a rule follower. I implemented the exact curriculum passed down from the administration without question, including the required language arts curriculum. It was a scripted basal reader program—the exact same one used by the non-bilingual classrooms—only it had been translated into Spanish. Each week we read a story from an anthology and worked on the particular reading skill dictated by the manual.

Diversity Gap in Children's Books Infographic 2015
Diversity Gap in Children’s Books Infographic 2015 – click for larger image

This was convenient for me as a beginning teacher because it is challenging to find quality texts in Spanish. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, of an estimated 5,000 children’s books published in the United States in 2014, only 66 were about Latinas/os. At least, I told myself, my students were reading in their native language on a daily basis.

Yet I began noticing that my students were not seeing themselves in the stories we read. The basal reader had more than 20 different stories, but only one that included a Latina/o-looking individual, and nowhere in the story did it talk about any of the complexities of being a bilingual or bicultural child.

My students were learning to read in Spanish that had been translated from the English, with texts that were Latina/o-culture free. The basal reader conveyed a clear message: Diverse experiences don’t matter. Every student was treated the same, given the same story to read, and taught the same skills. There was no differentiation. There was no mirror. There was no joy.

I began to question whether what I was doing was in the best interests of my students. I realized that I had to be the one to advocate for them.

I decided to bring in more literature written by Latina/o authors about Latina/o children. I began to compile a list of books by award-winning authors on such lists as the Pura Belpré, the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, and the Américas Award. I also looked for additional books by authors I already knew: Alma Flor Ada, Gloria Anzaldúa, and René Colato Laínez. In addition to Del Norte al Sur, the books I chose included La superniña del cilantro, by Juan Felipe Herrera; Esperando a Papá, by René Colato Laínez; Prietita y la llorona, by Gloria Anzaldúa; and Pepita habla dos veces, by Ofelia Dumas Lachtman.

The greatest challenge I faced was getting multiple copies of the books I wanted my students to read in small groups. To clear this roadblock, I applied for and received a grant to purchase books. I also borrowed copies from colleagues and scoured the shelves of multiple public libraries around the area. One way or the other, I was able to get four to five copies of each book.

I centered the literature discussion groups around four themes: Family, Cultural Stories, Language, and English. For each theme, I gave students four or five titles to choose from. I started each unit by giving a book talk in which I shared a few passages from each of the book choices. Then I gave students time to browse through the books and fill out a ballot ranking their top choices. Each group of literature discussions was five days long, including two days of preparation and three days of group discussion that I facilitated. Students prepared for discussions by reading the story and marking the book with sticky notes. They used the sticky notes so they would remember what they wanted to say in the discussion group. To help with that process, I gave them a sheet with sentence starters.

When our classroom shifted from basal-based reading instruction to literature-based discussions, I noticed an immediate change in my students. They were more engaged in the stories. Through the personal connections they shared, I learned new things about them and their families. Our literature discussion groups became a place where we came together and shared our joys and the difficulties we were going through. It became a place where we learned that we were not alone, and that the curriculum could be a space for reflecting and holding our own experiences. Students who had been labeled with “low proficiency” in reading on the benchmark test at the beginning of the school year were often the ones talking the most during the discussions. Our conversations helped them feel more comfortable, see themselves in the curriculum, and explore their multiple identities. They were acquiring the tools and space to unpack complex issues in their lives.

Making Space for Students’ Fears

In Del Norte al Sur, one of the books in our Family theme, we read about José going with his father to Tijuana to visit his mother, who is staying in a women’s shelter while she tries to assemble the documents to return to the United States. José, who lives in San Diego, is able to go visit his mother on the weekends and help her with the garden at the shelter; his father pays for a lawyer to process the paperwork. Although the situation is challenging for José and his parents, it is far milder than the reality of most individuals who are deported. Most children are not able to see members of their families who have been deported for extended periods of time. Many who are deported are never able to return to the United States.

Even though the story wasn’t a perfect match to my students’ own experiences, they started making personal connections to the text. When Lucia shared that her uncle had been deported, I asked her to explain what that meant. “Es cuando la policía para a una persona y les toman los fingerprintes y después se fija en una máquina si los deportan o no, pero deportar significa que los van a mandar a México”. (It’s when the police stop someone, take their fingerprints, and look on a machine to see if they will deport them or not, but deporting means they send them to Mexico.)

Although I was excited that my students were discussing this topic and I asked questions to further the conversation, I wanted to make sure I didn’t push them into an uncomfortable or upsetting space. I paid close attention to everyone, looking for cues about how they were feeling. My ultimate goal in the introduction of these literature discussions was to get my students to develop their critical thinking skills, but first I had to make sure they felt safe enough to share their stories. Before we began the literature discussions, we had developed community norms. Two of our norms were “we feel safe” and “we respect and listen to others.” When we created and reviewed the norms, my students and I talked about not making fun of each other, not laughing at individuals who were sharing, and not interrupting.

When Lucia shared her uncle’s story, it opened up a group discussion. Alejandra told us about a time her father was stopped by the police while they were driving to a nearby city. She also told us about a time her family was driving and her mother spotted a police officer. Her mother said, “Bájense porque ahí está la policía y qué tal si nos detiene”. (Get down because the police are there and what if they stop us.) Alejandra demonstrated how she slouched down in her chair. Her mother told Alejandra and her sisters, “No escuchen lo que está diciendo el policía”. (Don’t listen to what the police officer says.) Alejandra said, “Entonces no escuchamos”. (So we didn’t listen.) As Alejandra talked, we just listened. I made sure not to ask questions because I wanted to allow Alejandra the opportunity to share just as much as she wanted to.

Staying silent took lots of practice. I was so accustomed to jumping in and guiding my students in a particular direction. The pressures I felt to cover the curriculum and raise test scores made me want to push my students along at a faster pace. I had to change that mentality. I wanted my students to do most of the talking because I wanted to open up space for their lives. I didn’t want them to feel judged. I wanted our discussions to be a place where they felt safe discussing any topic. Too often, I found my students waiting for me to speak so they could agree and repeat what I said. I wanted to move away from the idea that teachers were the only ones with answers. My students had important things to share. I wanted them to realize that their experiences could help us understand each other and the book.

Alejandra finished her story by saying that the police officer followed them home and talked again to her father when they arrived. She explained that she and her younger sister were born in the United States, so they are allowed to stay, but her parents and older sister don’t have this advantage. If they are stopped again by the police or ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), her family might be split apart. I had never seen her so vulnerable.

I turned to Juliana and asked if she had anything she wanted to share, or if she knew anyone who had been deported. She fidgeted with her hands, staring at the table, before looking up and saying “Sí, mi papá”. (Yes, my dad.) Lucia nodded. “Oh, sí, ella ya nos contó la historia”. (Oh, yes, she already told us the story.)

Taking Time to Listen

At one point in our discussions Lucia announced, “No me gustan los Estados Unidos para nada.” (I don’t like the United States at all.)

This caught me off guard. “¿Por qué?” (Why?)

Lucia said that here in the United Stated she felt enclosed, but in Mexico she was free to go outside every day.

Alejandra added, “Mi mamá dice que no le gusta aquí”. (My mom says she doesn’t like it here.) She told us about a lady who helped her mother fill out some paperwork and told her mom to call her if she ever got stopped by the police. The lady told Alejandra’s mom that the police had gotten harder and that they didn’t want people from Mexico. They wanted to deport everyone.

Lucia jumped in. “Sí, están mostrando mucho de eso en Primer Impacto, que tratan de sacar a los mexicanos”. (Yes, on First Impact, they are showing lots of that, that they are trying to get rid of the Mexicans.) Primer Impacto is a popular Spanish-language, daily news program. My students were watching the media alongside their parents. This is where they were getting a lot of their information about the current political context in the United States, including hostility toward immigrants, harsh deportation policies, and family separations.

Although I felt pressure to keep the students reading and to move things along so that they could answer specific questions about the text, I resisted the temptation and asked, “¿Cómo se sienten ustedes con eso, ustedes siendo mexicanos y americanos?” (How do you feel about this, being both Mexican and American?)

Alejandra answered: “Yo me siento mal ser mexicana y americana porque mi mamá dice que si la van a deportar que no sabe a quién llevarse, porque le toca llevarse a Perla pero puede dejar a mi hermana y a mí. Y dice mi mamá que si llegan a pararla, que puede que ya nunca la veamos”. (I feel bad being Mexican and American because my mom says that if they are going to deport her, she won’t know who to take because she’ll have to take Perla, but can leave my sister and me. And my mom says if they stop her, we might never see her again.)

Hearing Alejandra talk this way made me extremely sad. Why did a child this young have to deal with issues normally reserved for adults? When I was growing up, I didn’t realize my parents were undocumented. They had overstayed the tourist visas they used to enter the United States, but I only learned about it when I was 10 years old and my parents became U.S. citizens. Both of my parents were given amnesty under the Immigrant Reform and Control Act of 1986 signed by President Reagan. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to worry about my parents possibly not coming home.

My students’ narratives shed light on the complex lived experiences they navigate on a daily basis. On the one hand, they want to be in Mexico or Guatemala with their extended families; on the other hand, they know how hard their parents are working to stay here. As a child, I had many of the same contradictory feelings. My entire family, other than my parents and brother, were in Colombia. I felt like I didn’t belong here in the United States. At the end of one trip to Colombia, I cried and begged my father to leave me there to continue school. He said no, that there were more opportunities for me in the United States, but I’m not sure he realized the impact of the fact that none of my teachers or classmates acknowledged the difficulty of being in a learning environment that ignored and devalued my language and culture.

Embracing Complexity

While Lucia, Juliana, and Alejandra were reading Del Norte al Sur, the other literature groups were reading La superniña del cilantro and Esperando a Papá. (So many students wanted to read La superniña del cilantro, we ended up with two groups working with that book.) Both of these books also raised issues of family separation and the border.

1. Recognize that bilingual isn't necessarily biculturalStudents in the group reading Esperando a Papá told personal stories about family members crossing the border. One day, I explained that, according to the U.S. government, it’s against the law to cross the border without the right documents. I asked them what they thought about that—was it a fair law? Was it OK to break that law? Camila said, “Mi mamá y mi papá nomás cruzaron, porque querían a lo mejor ver lo que estaba aquí, pero si tú matas a alguien y te vas entonces eso es como no seguir la ley”. (My mom and dad only crossed because maybe they wanted to see what was over here, but if you kill someone and then you leave, then that’s not following the law.) Camila was talking back to the dominant discourse that says it is “wrong” to cross the border without papers and expressing a more complex view of the moral issues involved.

When I brought up the same question to the whole class, the children saw both positive and negative aspects to crossing the border illegally. In terms of positive aspects, they knew and retold stories about family members coming over to find a better life or get a better job. But many of them experienced the constant fear of family members being deported, and they had heard stories about hardships in crossing the border. For example, one child said her female cousin had to cut her hair like a boy for fear of being hurt as she tried to cross over. When Eduardo talked about how hard it was for his dad to climb over the fence, Carlos looked confused. I pulled out my iPad and showed the class pictures of the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Together, we read stories about immigrants to the United States from other parts of the world and the difficulties they faced, including In English, of Course, by Josephine Nobisso;I Hate English!, by Ellen Levine; and No English, by Jacqueline Jules. I wanted my students to understand that they shared experiences with people from other cultures, places, and times. I wanted them to see the injustices and prejudice they faced as part of a bigger pattern of power and marginalization. I tried to help them better understand these aspects by connecting them directly to the stories they shared.

For example, one day Camila told us about a conflict she and Lucia had during recess with English-speaking students from another class. Camila and Lucia were playing on top of the play structure when two girls started pushing them and calling them names. Camila said she told them “That’s not right,” but they continued. Then, Camila told us, “Yo le dije a Lucia en español que mejor nos vayamos de ahí y nos fuimos.” (I told Lucia, in Spanish, that it would be better if we left and we did.) After we gave Lucia and Camila support, we talked about the lack of integration between the bilingual students and non-bilingual students at the school. We discussed what they could do to make friends from other classrooms.

Soon these conversations influenced my planning across content areas. I realized I had to make space for students’ stories beyond literature discussions—in writing, math, and social studies. In social studies, for example, students and their parents became experts as we studied their home countries.

My students’ stories were different from my own. Lucia’s, Juliana’s, Alejandra’s, Eduardo’s, and Camila’s stories have similarities, but also differences. I realized the importance of not grouping all Latina/o narratives into one stereotypical box. Giving my students voice and exposing them to a range of multicultural literature gave us the opportunity to dig deeper and see broader vistas.


  • Get 30% Off Magazine Subscriptions Purchased on Rethinking Schools Magazine Website with Discount Code: LLJ15 (discount taken at checkout!)
  • Buy From North to South/Del Norte al Sur
  • Browse bilingual Spanish/English books on the web and in our catalog from LEE & LOW
  • Teacher’s Guide for From North to South/Del Norte al Sur by LEE & LOW

0 Comments on “¿Qué es deportar?”: Teaching from Students’ Lives as of 11/2/2015 8:23:00 AM
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2. Go Fly a Kite! 9 Kidlit Books About Kites

As I sit in my office at JIAB headquarters, the Fall winds are whispering loudly and the leaves are tumbling down from the trees and quietly pelting the ground. As the weather in Maryville, TN turns chillier, and the autumn winds bring an end to the colorful leaf-watching activities, I can’t help secretly wishing I could go fly a kite!

One of our favorite things to do in April is fly our kites at our local kite festival in the park. Granted, it’s not April, but I do enjoy the childlike fun affiliated with flying a kite. To get everyone in the spirit of Kite Flying we pulled out some of our favorite books to read and created 9 Kidlit Books About Kites. I love the multicultural nature of these books as well. Hope our list inspires you as well.

books about kites

Kite Flying by Grace Lin – The wind is blowing which makes for a good day to fly kites. Come enjoy this family as they make a dragon kite together.

kite flying book

The Legend of the Kite by Chen Jiang Hong – A grandfather and his grandson build a kite for thier local kite festival. Also included is the history of China’s kite flying tradition.

books about kites

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers – Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree and he has to figure out how to get it down. First he throws his shoe which also gets stuck. He then decides to throw the other shoe which ends up with the first shoe and the kite stuck in the tree. This is only the beginning of a long list of hysterically funny things which get thrown up into the tree to unstuck the kite. This is such a great read!

books about kites

Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel – Frog and Toad spend their days together flying kites, celebrating Toad’s birthday, and having lots of fun together.

books about kites

Kites: Magic Wishes that Fly Up to the Sky by Demi – One of my favorite author/illustrators, Demi tells the story of how kites came to be. A long time ago in China a woman commissioned an artist to paint a dragon kite for her son. It was the mother’s hope that this beautiful dragon which stood for wealth, wisdom, power, and nobility would be seen by the gods in heaven who would assist her son in growing up to be big and strong. Demi’s art is exquisite in this great book.

books about kites

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer – Look into the world of Benjamin Franklin and discover how he used lightening and a kite to make people’s lives safer.

books about kites

The Kite Festival by Leyla Torres – One Sunday morning, Fernando Florez and his multi-generational family go to town and discover a kite festival. With all the stores closed they have to work together to create a kite. This is such a sweet story.

kite booklist

Henry and the Kite Dragon by Bruce Edward Hall – Henry lives in Chinatown in New York City and loves to make kites with his grandfather Chin. While Henry and his grandfather fly their kites in the park, kids from Little Italy keep throwing rocks at them and destroying the beautiful kites. Henry and his friends decide that enough is enough. This book is based on a true story in 1920 when two groups of kids form idfferent cultures came face to face to discover they have much more in common than differences.

kite booklist

The Best Winds by Laura Williams – A classic Korean tale about Jinho and his grandfather who teaches him the art of kite making.

kite booklist

I hope you have many wonderful days reading about kites and good wind to go and fly a few!

***some of these links are affiliate links


Discover the joys of delving into this timeless children’s literature classic and see the Secret Garden through new eyes and a modern twist!
Kids and nature go hand-and-hand and enjoying the bounty that the great outdoors brings is not just a “summer thing.” The newest book from children’s book authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters teaches families everywhere to enjoy not only the great outdoors with month-by-month activities, but to jump deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!
A Year in the Secret Garden

The post Go Fly a Kite! 9 Kidlit Books About Kites appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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3. Weekend Links Great Booklists and Links for Moms and Kiddos

Welcome to Weekend Links! First let me start off by saying that I wish everyone a happy and blessed Easter.


Weekend Links is my chance to share all of the amazing book-related goodness that I have encountered over the course of the past week. So much is going on lately! Holidays, observances, Spring Break and the promise of an equally busy summer. So much to do…so much to share! BUT, for now I want to share these little pieces of gold from the interwebs.

There are most certainly a few favorites here! 15 Important Pieces Of Wisdom Found In Children’s Books

Roald Dahl


35 Multicultural Early Chapter Books for Kids From What Do We Do All Day?

Multicultural books for kids

Top Ten Picture Books Celebrating Diversity by Jennifer McLaughlin http://wp.me/p21t9O-21L via the Nerdy Book Club


This post was such a hit this week when I shared it from our archives, I thoughts I’d add it to Weekend Links just for fun. 10 Ways to Make the World More Beautiful with Miss Rumphius


April 2nd was International Children’s Book Day and we did a great round-up of blog posts and booklists HERE PLUS I am giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

International Children's book day

If you are in the mood for another and inactive story, check out the enhanced digital eBook for kids, The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!

The Ultimate Guide To Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is a step by step roadmap to this magical world.   Just some of the fun includes:

  • A story filled with beautiful graphic illustrations including tantalizing Treasure Maps and vibrant tutorials.


  • Over 20 Crafts and activities that not only entertain, but educate.
  • You get to jump inside the book and enjoy creating the adventures yourself (Templates, maps, and more are included.)
  • Ever wonder where chocolate comes from? Or how gum is made?  Wonder no more. Now you get to make your own.
  • Conduct activities in the areas of crafting, cooking, and game-playing as well as exploring many facets of candy production.
  • The option to take Charlie’s journey over the course of several days or take shorter journeys if you wish.
  • The creation of a new ritual of reading time with your family and the opportunity to experience the reading of this imaginative tale as a group activity, not a solitary event.

Go HERE to learn more and grab your copy from iBooks!

The Ultimate Guide to Charlie

The post Weekend Links Great Booklists and Links for Moms and Kiddos appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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4. 7 End-of-Year Field Trips and Book Pairings That Your Students Will Love (but won’t break the bank)

Assessments may not feel far enough in the past (or perhaps haven’t even started!), but the end of the year is fast approaching and field trip planning is in full force!

It can feel like a scramble. For our final science unit in third grade, my colleagues and I wanted to teach our students about animal adaptions by raising trout in the classroom. It was an incredible opportunity to study the behavioral and physical adaptions of a specific species, but timing their release with a scheduled field trip was tricky. We didn’t know until a week ahead when the fish would be ready for release, which led to a mad rush to book buses.

In case you want to plan a field trip with more than a week of planning, here are some ideas with book pairings to get you ahead of schedule and your students excited!

Field trips

If your unit is…

  1. Habitats, Ecosystems, & Biodiversity

NYC field trip: Central Park Zoo

Book Pairing: Puffling Patrol

How to find puffins near you (if outside of NYC): Association of Zoos & Aquariums makes it easy to find a zoo or aquarium close to your school. Most zoo and aquarium websites will list the animals they have.

Virtual field trip: Puffin burrow bird cam from Explore.org

The art and facts are stunning in this Lee & Low book where children can learn about puffin adaptations and their life cycle. After reading about the adorable creatures, fall in love with the real deal: tufted puffins at the Central Park Zoo.

  1. The Solar System & the Moon

NYC field trip: Hayden Planetarium or Hudson River Museum

Book Pairing: A Full Moon is Rising

How to embark on moon exploration near you (if outside of NYC): Go-astronmy.com has put together a national map to search for local planetariums.

Virtual field trip: Amazing Space

Alongside the science, students love to study folktales and mythology from around the world featuring and explaining the solar system and moon. Introduce the significance of the moon in world cultures, with this Lee & Low title which gives readers a world tour of diverse celebrations and beliefs regarding Earth’s only natural satellite.

  1. Plant Adaptations

NYC field trip: Queens County Farm Museum and other farm field trips from GrowNYC.org

Book Pairing: Rainbow Stew, Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué rico! America’s Sproutings, and Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic

How to find a garden near you (if outside of NYC): Check out Better Homes and Gardens’ Garden Locator and the National Gardening Association’s Public Gardens Locator

Virtual field trip: My First Garden from University of Illinois Extension program

Share the joy of growing healthy food and the experiences of working the land with these Lee & Low titles!

  1. Life Cycles and Animal Adaptations

In NYC field trip: The Butterfly Conservatory at the Natural History Museum

Book Pairing: Leo and the Butterflies, Animal Poems of the Iguazu, and Butterflies for Kiri

How to find butterflies near you (if outside of NYC): Discover a butterfly house in your state. Also, the  Association of Zoos & Aquariums makes it easy to find a zoo close to your school.

Virtual field trip: Butterflies and Moths of North America, Journey North with monarchs, and Wildscreen ArKive

What better way to celebrate these amazing creatures than to marvel at their incredible adaptations up close?


  1. Natural Resources, Human Impact, & Sustainability

In NYC field trip: Hudson River Park

Book Pairing: Water Rolls, Water Rises and I Know the River Loves Me

How to find a body of water near you (if outside of NYC): The National Park Service has created the Find a Park search tool to discover a park by location, activity, or topic.

Virtual field trip: Interactive animation, “The NYC Water Story,” from American Museum of Natural History’s Water: H2O=Life exhibit

Foster respect and a sense of responsibility about the environment with hands-on, outdoors learning and these stunning stories that pack a powerful message about one of our most precious resources.

  1. Recycling

In NYC field trip: Sims Municipal Recycling: Sunset Park Materials Recycling Facility in Brooklyn

Book Pairing: The Can Man

How to find a recycling center or landfill near you (if outside of NYC): Many recycling centers and landfills offer student tours and you can find one near your school here.  It is recommended to call to see if the nearest one to you does school programs.

Virtual field trip: My Garbology from Naturebridge.org

Learn about the impact of recycling on the environment and human relationships.

  1. Physics: Forces & Energy

In NY State field trip: Baseball Hall of Fame or professional baseball stadium

Book Pairing: Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy, Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream, and Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer

How to find a baseball stadium near you (if outside of NYC): Maps are available to find the nearest major league baseball stadium and most offer student discounts or field trip tours. Minor League Baseball also has a map for its stadiums. For the most accessible option, check here and you can find a local baseball field for students to play themselves or see community members try out the laws of physics.

Virtual field trip: Exploratorium’s Science of Baseball

Long considered America’s “national pastime,” baseball has had major historic milestones paralleling societal changes and attitudes. Readers of all ages delight in learning about overlooked, but nevertheless significant, pioneers in the sport and trivia like the origins of baseball coaching signals.

Pair a Lee & Low title to your beyond-the-classroom-walls adventure to deepen background knowledge and create an interdisciplinary, multi-media experience. Young learners will never forget the time you made the book come alive with a visit to any one of these sights.

You may have a dozens of reminders set, but here is a thorough list to help you plan and execute a successful field trip from the educators at Learn NC.

Field Trip Funding:

  • DonorsChoose.org –For inspiration and proposal models, be sure to study what other teachers in your area and around the country are requesting for their field trips
  • Target Field Trip Grants—These are accepted in August and September only, but this grant option is one of the most popular for teachers around the country
  • ClassWallet
  • Every Kid in a Park—new initiative to help all fourth graders and their families explore our national parks for free
  • Ticket to Ride—National Park Foundation’s answer to transportation costs to and from the national parks and monuments
  • Student Achievement Grants—from the NEA Foundation
  • Road Scholarship from Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) Foundation—financial aid for individual students unable to afford to travel
  • PTA—your local PTA may have additional opportunities, ideas, and grants to fund your field trip

Local funding options:

Resources for virtual field trips:

Free ipad Apps for Virtual Field Trips from Edutopia

What are your experiences and tips on bridging a field trip with classroom content? What books have you used in the classroom or at home to begin or culminate a learning adventure? Share with us!

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

1 Comments on 7 End-of-Year Field Trips and Book Pairings That Your Students Will Love (but won’t break the bank), last added: 4/9/2015
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5. Celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday with Ira’s Shakespeare Dream

Today is what historians speculate is William Shakespeare’s birthday. Shakespeare was born in Stratford-on-Avon, England in 1564. Shakespeare is arguably the most well-known playwright of all time, and his works have been produced and acted in for the past 400 years!

Ira's Shakespeare Dream


Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, follows the life of Ira Aldridge, who was known as one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the 19th century.

As a young boy in 19th century New York City, Ira Aldridge greatly admired the works of Shakespeare. He wanted nothing more than to act in Shakespeare’s plays against his father’s wishes.

ira's shakespeare dream spread 1

Ira later set sale for England, where he ran small errands for theaters. He was also hired as an understudy. Ira got his big break acting when a fellow could not perform. However, he was not well received. He had little training and critics felt that he should not take roles from white actors.


Through his determination and perseverance, Ira Aldridge went on to become one of the most well known Shakespearean actors of his time, especially for his role as Othello. Ira Aldridge’s name is inscribed on a bronze plaque in the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, in Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. He is the only African American among the thirty-three actors to have achieved this recognition.

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream will be out this June.

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6. Wild Wings by Gill Lewis #BookReview and a Multicultural Story of Friendship

“The pattern of this landscape is folded deep, deep within her memory. She rides the currents of air that curl like rapids over the mountains. Below, the lochs reflect the cloud and sunlight. They lie in the valleys like scattered fragments of fallen sky. The cold north wind carries the remembered scent of pine and heather. The ice-carved valleys guide her.”

She is coming?

So begins the beautiful and touching story of an Osprey, a boy named Callum and a girl with an adventuresome spirit named Iona McNair.  Wild Wings by Gill Lewis tells the griping story of Callum who lives in Scotland and a girl from West Africa who together save a migrating Osprey and saving each other as well.

wild wings

Striving to protect the osprey nesting on his family’s farm in Scotland, 11-year-old Callum McGregor watches the bird throughout summer, uses a computer to follow her migration to Africa and sets in motion a remarkable chain of events. This rich, moving tale begins with a shared secret: It was classmate Fiona McNair who found the nest. When the bird is snagged in fishing line high in her pine, the circle expands to include Callum’s sheep-farming family and a ranger from a nearby preserve. When she migrates, Callum and friends Rob and Euan track her through the transmitter she carries on her back. When her signal disappears in a Gambian mangrove forest, 10-year-old Jeneba, hospitalized with broken legs, mobilizes the fishermen of her village and a visiting American doctor to rescue and rehabilitate her. Eventually—and entirely naturally—the bird’s story reaches around the world. The suspenseful story line is surrounded with precise details: the Scottish landscape, osprey behavior, the work of a sheepdog and the joy and pain of riding a trail bike. Short chapters, some with cliffhanging endings, will read aloud well. Callum’s first-person narrative is occasionally paralleled by the osprey’s own experience, as Callum imagines it. With universal themes of life and death, friendship and respect for the natural world, this is still quite particular, a powerfully memorable story of a boy’s grief and determination to keep a promise. Kirkus Reviews

This is a modern day story which flows easily and grabs the readers attention immediately. It is a captivating story which has us in the countries of Scotland and Gambia. Wild Wings is a perfect combination of fiction based narrative and actual nonfiction facts about Ospreys and their living environments and migration patterns. A perfect read for a child who loves nonfiction as well as enticing a reluctant reader. Wild Wings is also good for the deep thinker and has children reflecting on many deeper issues as hand such as decisions about friendships, not giving up, moving on after losses, and awareness of how we take things for granted in our relatively privileged society.

It is an engaging story of how every one of us makes a difference and working together as a community both near and far can solve what seemed an insurmountable problem. Grab your copy of this wonderful and compelling kidlit book here.

**some of these links are affiliate links

Something To Do

What would you think if I invited you on an Osprey’s incredible journey, just like the one Callum and his friends took? Flying high above mountain ranges, oceans, and expansive and huge deserts, the osprey travels thousands of miles to migrate to warmer weather. Using satellite tagging, scientists are able to learn more about the osprey’s migration routes and about where they breed and where they winter.

Author Gill Lewis in 2011 followed such a journey and has shared it with all of us. Start here for an amazing high flying adventure.

Osprey Migration


The osprey also known as the fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, or fish hawk, is a fish eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 24 inches in length and 71 inches across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts.

The osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding visitor.

It’s known as a fish eagle and the osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish.

The osprey weighs between 2 and 4 pounds. 

Osprey Habitat

After the peregrine falcon, the osprey is the second most widely spread raptor in the world. It can be found in mild and tropical climate. In North America it breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland and to the south in the Gulf Coast region as well as Florida. The osprey then winters in South America. In summer it is found throughout northern Europe, in Ireland, Scandinavia, Scotland, England, and Wales but not in Iceland. When in Europe the osprey winters in Africa.

In Australia the osprey doesn’t migrate at all but remains on the coast and then flying to Western Australia to breed.

Common Core Interdisciplinary Curriculum

To learn more about the Osprey here is a very in-depth interactive Curriculum from Friends of Blackwater Reservoir in Maryland called Project Osprey Curriculum  . This guide is very through and covers everything you need for Common Core. Matched with the book Wild Wings, it’s a perfect combination.

Great BBC Program on the Scottish Osprey Conservation Project

Part 1

Part 2

Watch Live

Audubon Society of New Hampshire, includes webcam at Lake Massabesic

Highland Foundation for Wildlife, osprey management in Scotland

Osprey camera at Blackwater Reservoir, Maryland

Osprey nest camera at Loch Garten, Scotland

Osprey nest monitoring,northern England

Learn More About Migration

Journey North, track the journeys of several migratory species

Backpacking Ospreys: Following their migration

Learn and Conserve

The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota

Osprey Project at Rutland Water, United Kingdom

Lake District Osprey Project, Bassenthwaite Lake, England

Glaslyn Osprey Project, Porthmadog, North Wales

Loch of Lower, Dunked, Perthshire

Enjoy Birdwatching!


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Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board A Year In The Secret Garden on Pinterest.

Do your young readers love nature and all of nature’s critters? Experience the magical story of a family of foxes that took up residence right in the front yard of the author and publisher, Valarie Budayr. The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together.

The Fox Diaries
From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Come watch as they navigate this wildly dangerous but still wonderful world. Great to share with your children or students, The Fox Diaries speaks to the importance of growing and learning both individually and as a family unit. It is a perfect book for story time or family sharing. Not only can you read about the daily rituals of this marvelous fox family, there is an information-packed resource section at the end of the book that includes lots of facts and even a few “fox movies” that you can enjoy with your family. Grab your copy of this beautiful and inspiring book HERE.

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7. Choosing the World Our Students Read

13089CT01.tifteaching toleranceEmily Chiariello is a Teaching and Learning Specialist with Teaching Tolerance. She has 15 years’ experience as a classroom teacher, professional development and curriculum designer in public, charter and alternative school settings, as well as with non-profit organizations. She holds a master’s degree in philosophy and social policy and is certified in secondary social studies.

Here she discusses Teaching Tolerance’s new curriculum tool, “Project Appendix D,” that empowers educators to identify texts that both meet the demands of the Common Core Standards and reflect the world in which our students live. This blog post was originally posted at the Teaching Tolerance blog.

Teaching Tolerance image (2)

by Emily Chiariello

Does the Common Core limit what texts teachers can use? While many people think so, we don’t. Teaching Tolerance believes it is possible—and important—to choose texts that are both rigorous and relevant. Read on to learn about a new approach to text selection: Appendix D: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts. This exciting project goes beyond the resources offered in Appendices A and B and offers a new world of possibilities within literacy instruction.

Appendices A and B

Teachers are expected—per the CCSS’s Appendix A—to select more complex texts, teach more nonfiction and ask more text-dependent questions. But do they feel less empowered to choose readings about social justice or to locate texts that reflect the identities and histories of their students and communities? We’re concerned the answer is yes. We know that teachers want texts that mirror their students’ lives. And to achieve equitable outcomes, the Common Core must be implemented in culturally responsive ways that address social emotional learning as well as academic goals. Yet, this kind of implementation is not happening in most districts.

At first glance, one might think that the “Reader and Task” portion of the text selection model in Appendix A makes room for culturally responsive instructional decisions. Instead, there’s only a brief and bland mention of “reader variables”—motivation, knowledge and experiences—ultimately eclipsed by the other two measures: hard Lexile scores (quantitative) and subjective interpretations of meaning and purpose (qualitative).

pull-quoteAnd then there’s the stark imprint of privilege found in the gaps and silences of Appendix B, a list of “text exemplars” that meet the aforementioned approach to text complexity, quality and range. Too many publishers—and districts, too—have interpreted the text exemplars listed in Appendix B as a required reading list.

Woefully few examples of cultural relevance can be found in “Common Core-aligned” materials and trainings, including Appendix B. Jane M. Gangi, professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College, has analyzed Appendix B and found that, of the 171 texts recommended for children in K-5, only 18 are by authors of color, and few reflect the lives of children of color and children in poverty.

Appendix D

We believe that educators—teachers, librarians and literacy specialists—who work in classrooms every day are in the best positions to identify texts that engage diverse students.

That’s why we’re excited to share our new project: Appendix D: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts. Traditionally, tools that support text selection have focused on quantitative and qualitative measures only. But Appendix D promotes a multi-dimensional approach to text selection that prioritizes complexity as well as critical literacy and cultural responsiveness.

Appendix D empowers educators to rely on their knowledge of their students, rather than a prepopulated lists of titles, when selecting texts. The tool walks users through four distinct—but interconnected—text-selection considerations: complexity, diversity and representation, critical literacy, and reader and task. And it’s an editable PDF, allowing folks to document, save and share their text-selection process. (Be sure to download to unlock the editing capabilities.)

So, why a tool and not a list? There are commendable lists out there. Gangi and the Collaborative for Equity Literacy Learning (CELL) assembled an alternative list of multicultural titles, but they are not leveled for teachers to assess text complexity. Others, like publishers LEE & LOW, work to bring more diversity and representation into classroom libraries, and to the task of text selection. However, none of the lists we’ve investigated encompass texts that are both culturally relevant and meet the Common Core’s requirements for complexity. And, unless it is dynamic, any list of diverse books is only as diverse as the person—or people—who made it.

We hope the TT community will use Appendix D to help us grow a dynamic and diverse list of texts based on the four considerations and on the diverse needs of our students. We’ve started with the titles currently found in Perspectives for a Diverse America, our new anti-bias curriculum. In the months to come, as you use the Appendix D tool in your own practice, think of which complex, culturally relevant titles you think your fellow social justice educators would want to know about—and be on the lookout for an invitation to submit your texts to the ever-growing, ever-changing TT community list!

Paulo Freire wrote that, when we read words, we read the world. Don’t we owe it to our students to consider them when choosing those words?Gracias

Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books, Guest Blogger Post, Race Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, multicultural books, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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8. Three Months of Book Giveaways! Four Enchanting Tales from Wisdom Tales Press!

 Wisdom Tale Press Giveaway

With the winter months upon us, I feel this is a great time for readers of all ages to snuggle in with a good book. I have been blessed with tons of amazing books titles for kids over these last few months and I want to get these books into the hands of young readers. SO, for the next three months Jump Into a Book will be hosting a book giveaway every Wednesday! Some giveaways will be a single title, some will be a “Book Bundle,” but all will be books that your readers will love and cherish. I think these books will also make great gifts as well! Here’s what we are giving away this week (NOTE: All of these books are physical books, not Kindle versions).

This week I am giving away some wonderful books courtesy of Wisdom Tales Press! As you may already know, I a huge fan of Wisdom Tales and their high-quality multicultural books for kids. Wisdom Tales is also one of our Platinum Sponsors for Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I couldn’t be more grateful. They were also kind enough to supply me with FOUR gorgeous books to giveaway this week! Good luck!

The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston and Illustrated by Claire Ewart
The Olive Tree
Read my book review of this wonderful book (with activities!) HERE.
The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson and Illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard
“This dreidel doesn’t work!” the father had cried. “What do you mean? How can a dreidel not work?” the shopkeeper asked. It was certainly the most beautiful spinning top the shopkeeper had ever seen, with magical golden letters on its sides. But it just would not spin for two spoiled children who insisted on owning it! Later, the shopkeeper decides to try it one last time: would it spin for another child, one who carried the true spirit of Hanukkah in his heart?
Horse raid by Paul Goble
Read my book review with companion activities HERE.
The Pandas and Their Chopsticks
Eating bamboo shoots with chopsticks three feet long? Impossible, you say. Not if you are a playful panda and learn to share and work together with your friends! In her beautifully illustrated new book, award-winning author, Demi, presents ten classic animal stories, each containing important moral lessons for little hearts and minds to absorb. Cunning kitties, helpful hummingbirds, talkative turtles, and hasty hedgehogs, all bring these meaningful fables to life. Through her magical illustrations and whimsical storytelling, Demi teaches the importance of being humble, the dangers of being too proud, the importance of generosity and sharing, and how everyone, no matter how small, has a part to play in life.


  • ONE winner each receive a one copy of all three books. Giveaway begins December 10th and ends December 17th, 2014
  • Prizing & samples courtesy of Audrey Press
  • Giveaway open to US addresses only
  • ONE lucky winner will win one copy of each book listed above.
  • Residents of USA only please.
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter.
  • One entry per household.
  • Staff and family members of Audrey Press are not eligible.
  • Grand Prize winner has 48 hours to claim prize.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 18th


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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9. My Free Gift To YOU-Read Your World Multicultural Books Activities for Kids Guide

free gift

As a reading and play advocate, I am always looking for fun and innovative ways to shine the spotlight on new children’s literacy and inspire families to pull books off of shelves and stories off of pages.

So early last year, I decided to create a fun guidebook to do just THAT.

To create this Multicultural Books & Activities for Kids, I reached out to some of the brightest bloggers and asked them to pick a book that is meaningful to them, review it and create a fun activity to go along with it. The following is a line-up consisting of not only passionate reading advocates, but some of the most creative writers and bloggers I know.

The result?  This guidebook is packed full of 17 great book ideas for kids and offers up not only suggestions to keep young minds reading, but matching activities and extensions inspired by the books. This guide is designed to keep families engaged in the wonder and magic that can be found within the pages of a book and offer suggestions for diversity in children’s literature. The good news is that I am giving this e-book away for FREE! Yes, you heard me; FREE.

Jump Into a Book’s

Read Your World

Multicultural Books & Activities for Kids

By Valarie Budayr

Jump Into a Book’s Read Your World Multicultural Books & Activities for Kids

Some of the books used in the reviews and activities are:

  • Stand Tall, but Read All Around!
    {by Shannon Medisky}
  • Read Around the World Summer Reading Series
    {Guest post from Multicultural Kid Blogs}
  • Kid Writing and Biographies: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
    {Guest Post from The Unconventional Librarian Pam Margolis}
  • Down Under Calling by Margot Finke Book Review and Penpal Activity
    {A Multicultural Children’s Book blog post from Jump Into a Book}
  • Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
    {Guest Post by Sprout’s Bookshelf}
  • Read a Book; Travel the World & Make a Wish
    {Guest Post from Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri}
  • Fiesta Fiasco by Ann Whitford Paul
    {Guest Post by Frances from Discovering the World Through Her Son’s Eyes}
  • If you were Me and Lived in…by Carole P. Roman
  • {Guest Post from Squishable Baby}
  • Discovering The Cree Culture in America-Wild Berries by Julia Flett Review & Activity!
    {Guest Post from Felicia at Stanley and Katrina}
  • TOMB OF SHADOWS (7 Wonders Book III)
    {Guest Post from This Kid Reviews Books}
  • Cooking with Books: Lucky Birthday Noodles
    {Guest Post from Jodie @ Growing Book by Book}
  • A Peek into Thailand
    {Guest Post from Stephanie Kammeraad of Mama-Lady Books}
  • A Chair for My Mother Book Review & Activity
  • {Guest Post from Vicki Arnold}
  • The Magic Poof Review and Activity
    {Guest Post by Stephen Hodges}
  • Grandfather Tang’s Story: Storytelling with Tangrams
    {Bookjump by Valarie Budayr}


 And so much more! Ready for a FREE GIFT that will give your family hours of reading fun and activity? I thought so :)

This e-book will only be available for a short time so grab your copy HERE.

Read On!

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10. ALA Youth Media Awards Wins for Lee & Low Books!

Yesterday was the ALA Youth Media Awards, or the “Oscars of Children’s Literature” as they’re sometimes called. It was a big day for diversity. Diverse books and authors were honored across the board and we couldn’t be happier.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison, received the Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration. Little Melba follows the life of famed trombonist, composer, and arranger Melba Liston who broke through racial and gender barriers to become one of the great unsung heroes of jazz.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.49.26 AM

Pat Mora, author of Water Rolls, Water Rises/El agua rueda, el agua sube and many other award-winning titles, won the 2016 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award! This award recognizes an author, librarian, or children’s lecturer who will then present a lecture at a winning host site. In addition to her writing, Pat Mora is also a literacy
advocate. She created Día, a day that celebrates children and the importance of reading.

Congratulations to all the titles honored at the ALA Youth Media Awards!

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11. Writing for a Diverse Audience: SCBWI NY 2015 breakout recap

Over the weekend (Feb. 7), I taught a breakout session at the Annual Winter Conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators here in New York, NY. We were discussing how to write for a diverse audience. My main focus was on helping the audience to remember that no matter what you’re writing, your audience will always be diverse. Too often, writers think that there’s a dichotomy–that there are “multicultural books” that are read by kids of color, and that “everyone else” (meaning, white kids) read “mainstream” (meaning, white) books.

This just isn’t the case. Readers tend to read widely, and kids of color are just like their white peers, reading the most popular books, the books assigned to them in schools, and whatever else they happen to come across that sounds interesting to them.

Writing for a Diverse AudienceBelow are the links and a few notes from the handout I gave to writers at the conference, with a few annotations to clarify what we were talking about. I hope it is a useful resource when you’re thinking of writing for a diverse audience (i.e., when you’re thinking of writing–period!). If you have any further ideas–or links where writers can go further in depth–please add them in the comments.

Other coverage: SCBWI Conference Blog

Other sessions on the same topic: Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander’s breakout session on writing diverse books

Seven Essentials You Need to Know about Writing for a Diverse Audience

  1. Don’t feel “forced” to write diversity, but remember your readers are diverse
    • If your real-life world isn’t diverse, if you don’t know any people of color, if you don’t know how to write diverse characters without relying on stereotypes, you don’t have to feel pressured to do so.
    • And don’t feel like you need to come in and “save” anyone—come in from a position of equality and seeking equity.
    • However, your world is likely more diverse than you think.
    • Often, people of color and Native Americans are most hurt by passing comments in books that aren’t “about” POC at all. (Debbie Reese’s blog has many examples of this.)
    • Don’t be afraid to discuss race. If you’re new at this, do a lot of listening.
  1. You need to know about power dynamics
  1. Expand your definition of “diversity.”
  • Diversity is not just about race, religion, class, etc. It is often about how many different identity markers come together to create a specific experience. Here’s a basic definition of  intersectionality. Think about how it affects your characters.
  • Intersections happen across 11 lenses, according to Teaching Tolerance:
  1. race
  2. ethnicity
  3. language
  4. immigration  
  5. religion
  6. gender identification
  7. sexual orientation
  8. class 
  9. ability
  10. age
  11. place
  1. Social media doesn’t have to be a distraction.
  1. In your writing, seek both the universal & the specific.
  • Universal stories appeal to a broad swath of readers: characters dealing with parents, love stories, stories of loss—these are all stories of the human condition.
  • Specific details make your story richer.
  • If you are writing cross-culturally, do your research. Debbie Reese has an excellent guide on seeking a cultural expert in Native American issues. Look for similar information on the culture you’re writing about.
  • And write a good book:
    • the most important thing about a diverse book is the same thing as for all books. What matters most:
      • Characterization
      • Plot
      • World-building
      • Pacing
      • Age-appropriate content (though not shying away from edgy topics)
      • Concept
  1. Contextual clues are better than exposition of culture.
  • Show, don’t tell!
  • Remember that your audience includes cultural insiders and outsiders. Balance enough information for outsiders with the possibility of boring insiders with too much basic everyday information.
  1. School visits are a great way to reach diverse students.
  • At the beginning of your career, be willing to do school visits or Skype visits for a low honorarium, until you can build up your resume and network with more teachers.
  • Keep in mind that schools with a high percentage of diverse students are often the most underfunded. They may not have a budget for an honorarium, but may be able to purchase books for students to compensate.

Stacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers.

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12. Awards and Grants for Authors of Color

Getting your book published is difficult, and unfortunately it tends to be much harder when you’re a Person of Color. While there are more diverse books being published, there’s still a lot of work to do!

Fortunately there are awards and grants out there help writers of color achieve their publication dreams.

We’ve created a list of awards and grants to help you get started!

New Voices Award – Established in 2000, is for the unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript.

Awards and Grants for Writers of ColorNew Visions Award – Modeled after LEE & LOW’s New Voices Award, this award is for Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Mystery middle grade or YA novels.

SCBWI Emerging Voices Grant – This award is given to two unpublished writers or illustrators from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America and who have a ready-to-submit completed work for children.

The Angela Johnson Scholarship from Vermont College of Fine Arts – This scholarship is for new students of color of an ethnic minority for VCFA’s MFA program.

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson Scholarship from Hamline College – “Annual award given to a new or current student in the program who shows exceptional promise as a writer of color.”

We Need Diverse Books Short Story Contest - This short story contest was inspired by Walter Dean Myers’ quote, “Once I began to read, I began to exist.”

The Scholastic Asian Book Award – This award is for Asian writers writing books set in Asia aimed at children 6-18 years of age.

Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund – This fund enables writers of color to attend the Clarion writing workshops where writer Octavia Butler got her start.

SLF Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants – These grants are new works and works in progress. The Diverse Writers Grant focuses on writers from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds, and the Diverse Worlds Grant is for stories that best present a diverse world, regardless of the author’s background.

Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award – This one time grant is awarded to an emerging writer of color of crime fiction.

NYFA Artists’ Fellowships – These fellowships are for residents of New York State and/or Indian Nations located in New York State.

Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature – These annual awards recognize emerging African writers and illustrators.

The Sillerman First Prize for African Poets – This prize is for unpublished African poets.

What other awards and grants do you recommend for authors of color?

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13. Where to Find Culturally Diverse Literature to Pair with Your Required Curriculum

We hear over and over again from teachers across the country how they want to infuse more culturally responsive and relevant texts into their district or school-mandated curriculum.

It’s challenging to do, but what if we had some resources to share to help you out?

First, read: If you haven’t read this article from Reading Teacher, here’s your chance. Authors Fenice Boyd, Lauren Causey, and Lee Glada offer teachers great suggestions for culturally diverse literature that addresses Common Core standards in this Reading Teacher article (PDF).

What is “culturally relevant teaching?” Heather Coffey at LEARN NC, a program of the UNC School of Education, shares the history and theory.

Culturally Diverse Lit

Here are some places teachers are finding culturally relevant / responsive texts and (just as vital) ready-to-go lesson plans. Check out:

  • The Teachers College Inclusive Classrooms Project (TCICP) offers concrete examples for teachers to make their classrooms more inclusive, such as the Culturally Relevant Curriculum practice and inquiry. These were created by (NYC) teachers for teachers
  • Utah public school teachers created these multicultural lesson plans during their Center for Documentary Expression and Art course, “Multiculturalism and Storytelling,” available through the Utah Education Network (UEN) lesson library
  • The Lewis Library at the Loyola University Chicago Libraries has created this amazing visual resource for teachers at its School of Education to find multicultural books right for their students and instructional strategies
  • POV at PBS provides lessons exploring multiculturalism to pair with its films for grades 6 and up
  • TeachPeaceNow has literature-based lesson plans covering social justice topics to include in your curriculum
  • ArtsEdge, an education program of The Kennedy Center, has written detailed ready-to-implement lessons on American culture and comparing cultural holidays (just to highlight a few)
  • TeachableMoment from Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility offers inquiry-oriented lessons on current issues and social and emotional learning

For even more ideas for discovering diverse literature that’s will pair with your curriculum, check out A More Diverse Reading List: Resources to Expand CCSS-aligned Texts compiled by Lee & Low Books.

Where do you recommend teachers find lessons plans that align with their curriculum and incorporate diverse literature? Share with us!

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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14. Elephant Dance: A Journey to India by Theresa Heine {Guest Post by Hannah Rials}

Guest post from Hannah Rials
Elephant Dance
When Ravi’s grandfather comes to visit from India, Ravi and his family learn a lesson about their homeland. Ravi’s grandfather tells them of the sun that is like a roaring tiger, of the wind that is like a wild horse. He tells them of the snow-tipped Himalayan mountains that are like ice cream. After a traditional Indian meal, Grandfather talks about elephants, the beautiful Indian elephants. Together. Ravi, his sister Anjali, and Grandfather drew a map of India, shaped like an elephants ear. They drew in all the animals, the big Ganges river, the elephant forest, the roaring sun and the ice cream mountains. Then Ravi played an elephant dance on his bamboo flute that he got at the market. He goes to bed, and in his dreams, as he plays his bamboo flute, an elephant does a silent dance.
I loved this book! Most people now are not able to travel as often as we would like to. It’s nice when different countries are able to be brought to our imagination with stories. Elephant Dance beautifully illustrates the rich Indian culture through a grandfather’s memory and love of a country. The illustrations are beautiful and colorful, perfectly complimentary to this fabulous story. Be sure to check out the information about India in the back of the book!

Something to do/Activities

Make your own Kite like Ravi’s that the wind like the wild horses can carry!
Make your own kite
Coloring Your Own India Map:
What to Include:
  • The Ganges River
  • Himalayan Mountains
  • Elephant Forest
  • Deserts
  • Roaring tiger sun
  • Elephants
  • Monkey
  • Peacocks
  • Crocodiles
  • Snakes
map of india
Welcoming/Creating The Roaring Sun of India with crafts:
Hannha rialsBorn in the hills of Louisiana and raised in the mountains of Tennessee, Hannah Rials is an eighteen year old aspiring author and editor. Now a freshman in college, she’s been writing short stories since she was a little girl, but for the past several years, she has been writing, editing, and reediting a novel of her own that will soon be published by Audrey Press. Hannah has always loved reading and the world of books. With a librarian grandmother who can tell the most magical stories, how could she not fall in love with the written word? Her library collection and love for books grows every day.

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15. Who Gets To Write What?

I tuned into ESPN the other night, clicking away at my laptop as I waited for the Stanford-North Carolina women’s basketball game to begin. The end of the Louisville-Maryland contest was on. There was about a minute left, and Louisville was losing by 10 points, which pretty much guaranteed Maryland the win. But wait. A Louisville player, number 23, floated in a terrific three-point shot with 30 seconds left. Then the same player hit another three-pointer with 18 seconds left. And yet another with five seconds left. Maryland had made two foul shots during the Louisville run, and the score was now 76-73. But it was Louisville’s ball. One more three-pointer would send the game into overtime.

I’m a sucker for an athlete who performs well under pressure, so I put down my laptop and stared at the screen. The announcers were full of praise for the Louisville player, a senior named Shoni Schimmel. I have rarely seen anyone with a smoother, more poetic stroke. When Maryland took a timeout before the game's last play, I went back to my computer and Googled her.

I admit I don’t follow college basketball as much as I should. If I did, I would have known that Shoni, and her sister Jude, who also plays for the University of Louisville, are a genuine phenomenon. Their games attract thousands of people who drive from all over the U.S. and Canada to see them. The sisters are Native Americans who grew up on the Umatilla reservation in Pendleton, Oregon. Their success has galvanized Native fans and even attracted a filmmaker, who made a documentary about them titled Off the Rez.

As I read about the Schimmel sisters, I thought, “This is a great story. I should write it.” You probably know that I’ve made a career bringing the true tales of athletes and other bold and brilliant women to the mainstream. As first Shoni and then Jude graduate from college and enter the WNBA, their journeys should have the makings of a great book.

But then I wondered, “Should I write it?” In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about the underrepresentation of people of color in children’s books. The postings on multicultural literature on the listserv of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, were coming fast and furious the entire month of February. A few weeks later, Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers wrote companion essays in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times under the title, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?”

One of the strands on the CCBC listserv focused on who actually writes books with characters or subjects of color, and as a corollary, who shouldwrite those books. A number of posters were pretty adamant that they thought books were more authentic—and by extension more acceptable—when they were written by members of the groups they portrayed. By that logic, a book about the Schimmel sisters would be best by a Native person. But why should authors be limited by their backgrounds? I’ve written more than a dozen books, including three biographies, and I’ve never written one with a main character who shares my Jewish heritage. For me, part of the joy of writing nonfiction is getting to explore new worlds while developing the context to tell the story.

That’s what I was thinking as I read many of the CCBC posts. And now I’m finally putting it into words. People expressed a valid concern about getting a more diverse pool of authors (and editors) producing children’s books, but I don’t feel that any authors should be dissuaded from tackling any topics that ignite their passions. Every voice is valid and every perspective is worth considering as we inspire kids' curiosity about and understanding of the world around them.
For the record, Louisville didn’t win the game, despite an inspired play that put the ball in Schimmel’s hands for one more three-point attempt. She shot, and the ball hit the rim and ricocheted away as time ran out. It was Shoni’s last college game, but hopefully the prelude to an exciting professional career. Perhaps someone will write a book about Shoni and her sister one day. Perhaps it will be me.

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16. Finding the Fountain of Youth and Stories

Aldo and family read through Abuelo

Aldo and family read through Abuelo

Where do stories come from? Sometimes we have to travel to find them, journeying within or experiencing what happens in our paths along the way. Recently I was taking a new book, Abuelo, to Argentina, to people who had inspired it.

People arrive, events occur, that later become essential stories in each of our lives. Clearly, what becomes important is not the same for each person. But often, the stories that happen while we are young stay with us, and can help carry us through the rest of our lives. For my friend Aldo, who is Argentinean, riding La Pampa, the wide plains and foothills of Argentina when he was a boy with his “Abuelo Gaucho”—Grandfather Cowboy—has given him stories, a relationship and a strong place to return to that have helped him ride free through the years.

Granddaughter Victoria and her father Ricardo read Abuelo for the first time.

Granddaughter Victoria and her father Ricardo read Abuelo for the first time.

Aldo’s great grandfather Redmond arrived from Ireland in the 1840′s to a land that “had a lot of beef.” Argentines come in all colors and with names from many cultural backgrounds–from English to Italian, Lebanese to northern European, not just the Hispanic surnames that many associate with Latin America. Aldo explained to me that the popular way to address someone in a friendly way, saying “Che”— something akin to “hello friend”— likely comes from a Guarani Indian word.Like the US, South America is a quilt built of many cultures, from Indian to European to African, and more. But back to Aldo and his young days riding the range with Abuelo Gaucho, that first inspired me to write Abuelo.

As a boy, Aldo lived in a small town in La Pampa where raising cattle was a major enterprise. Cowboys— called gauchos— rode through the streets and sometimes brought herds to load onto the nearby trains. Aldo’s father worked for the railroad. Aldo would see the gauchos in town, and one older gaucho who knew his family well would say to Aldo that he should learn to ride a horse and the ways of the gauchos, that he would teach him. With the permission of Aldo’s family, on Sundays, the gaucho’s day off, the old gaucho began to teach Aldo— first to ride, how to guide and talk to the horse, how to find his way securely on the pampas. Over the years they rode out, the old gaucho on his horse, and Aldo on his own. Grandfather, or Abuelo, Redmond had died before Aldo was born, and so the old gaucho became like a grandfather to Aldo.

Arthur gives Aldo a copy of Abuelo

Arthur gives Aldo a copy of Abuelo

When Aldo grew up, he moved away from the small town of Roberts and “Abuelo Gaucho” to the city of Rosario to find work at a newspaper, and eventually for a bank. Throughout many changes, Aldo could return to La Pampa and Abuelo Gaucho in his mind. At a bank meeting that was droning on for hours, Aldo, who had been very active and successful in his work, was silent for a time. When someone at the meeting looked at him being so quiet and asked “where is Aldo?” a friend who knew him well said, “he is on La Pampa.” Throughout his life, he has found strength there.

Now in his eighties, Aldo says that relationships between people are most important. His daughter and her family, his grandchildren live nearby. They know some of the great stories of their Abuelo Aldo, and his wife, Abuela Delia, who is a wonderful artist. Among the drawings I admired in their home was one of a gaucho, which thanks to Delia I now have with me. More tales there. I watched as Aldo saw and read Abuelo for the first time. He smiled at connections to places and relationships he has known so well. When I visited granddaughter Victoria’s school, the students, who see gauchos still, recognized the story and beautiful pictures drawn by Raúl Colón, cheered, and raced to tell new tales they found in their own lives— a fountain of youth and stories.

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Arthur Dorros views being a writer as like being a traveling detective. He finds ideas all around. He learned Spanish while living in Latin America, and many of his stories, such as Abuelo, grow from those experiences. Arthur is the author of many books for children, including Julio’s Magic, a CLASP Américas Award Commended Title; Papá and Me, a Pura Belpré Honor Book, and the popular Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book Ant Cities. He lives in Seattle, Washington.


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17. Reaching All Readers: New Multicultural Books for Children & Teens

Looking for new diverse books for your collection? We’re doing a webinar this afternoon at 2:00 pm EST with Booklist and several diverse publishers – don’t miss it! Sign up free here.

It’s going to be great!

booklist webinar

Filed under: Diversity Links, DiYA, Resources, The Diversity Gap Tagged: booklist, diverse books, diversity, groundwood books, lorimer books, multicultural books, tuttle publishing, webinar

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18. Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza: Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke {Guest Post by Sprout’s Bookshelf}

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Discover Your Wolrd Summer Reading Extravaganza

Our Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza is rolling right along and I am truly hoping JIAB has shown reading families some wonderfulnew  summer reading ideas thanks to the amazing book bloggers who have graced the pages of this blog over the last month and a half.

Today is no exception and I am pleased to have Mary Kinser from Sprout’s Bookshelf join us with her take on a great multicultural book called Anna Hibiscus. Thank you, Mary!

Anna Hibiscus


In my house, we’re always on the lookout for fun, interesting kid’s books set in Africa. Fortunately there are lots more on the shelves these days than there used to be. Unfortunately many are too advanced for my five-year-old Sprout, or they deal with topics that he’s just not ready for yet.


So you can imagine how thrilled I was to find the Anna Hibiscus books by Atinuke. This is a funny, upbeat series set in modern-day Africa, featuring a multi-racial, multi-generational family. How much more awesome could you get?? And even more fortunately, Anna Hibiscus is geared toward the younger spectrum of readers, which means these work as read-alouds for kiddos my age, and as great stories for emerging readers as well.

Sprout's Bookshelf

Anna Hibiscus features adorable illustrations of Anna and her family – her mother, who is Canadian, and her father, who is African, plus her extended family and baby brothers, twins named Double and Trouble. I love the feeling of family and community the pictures give – breaking down any barriers readers might experience when thinking about life in Africa, and showing the common themes that run through any small child’s everyday world. Each story in the book tells about a different aspect of Anna Hibiscus’ life, whether it’s watching her mischievous brothers while on vacation, or preparing the house for a visit from a favorite Auntie. There are lots of sweet moments and plenty of laughs too – enough to keep kiddos wanting to turn pages.


Atinuke, the author of the Anna Hibiscus titles, is a Nigerian storyteller. Like Anna Hibiscus, Atinuke lived much of her early life in a big house in Africa filled with extended family. But later she moved to England to attend boarding school, and England became her home. She wrote the Anna Hibiscus books in an effort to share stories about growing up in Africa with children from the UK. And luckily for all of us, the books have spread to the US as well.


I love reading the Anna Hibiscus stories with Sprout. His eyes light up as we read about life in Africa (Atinuke doesn’t define what country Anna Hibiscus is from – which works for us, as it could easily be Ethiopia, the land of Sprout’s heritage!). It’s so great to share stories that are on his level, that present a positive family dynamic and show so many commonalities between everyday life no matter where you’re raised. Truly, when you read about Anna Hibiscus and her incredible family, you just want to join in the fun!


There are currently six books in the Anna Hibiscus series, and each is even more charming than the last. But our hearts will always belong to the first book, just titled Anna Hibiscus, which we read on vacation last summer and have continued to love ever since. In fact, as I’m writing this post, Sprout saw our copy of Anna Hibiscus sitting by my computer and yelled, “I love this book!”. So what better endorsement could you ask for?



The last story in Anna Hibiscus is all about our heroine’s deep desire to see snow. And even though I’m not much of a crafty mom, I did stumble across a perfect idea to connect with the reading by doing an activity with Sprout. Jump over to Red Ted Art to find this great tutorial on making a homemade snow globe. It’s simple and fun, a great chance for kids to get creative and even satisfies that longing to see snow that sometimes crops up on a hot summer day!

DIY snowglobe

Sprout wanted to make his snow globe Star Wars-themed – hence the LEGO Luke Skywalker – and as such we opted to put in silver stars and moons (made from foil) rather than snow. (And since Sprout’s in a big dinosaur phase, he had to add an Apatosaurus figure too. ‘Cause even Jedis can get a little help from a prehistoric pal.) You could absolutely go the traditional route with a holiday theme and some glitter, in keeping with Anna Hibiscus’s wish to see the white stuff. Here’s a few pics of our snow globe in action – it was pretty hard to get good pics because the second we put this bad boy together, Sprout was shaking it up constantly!



By day, Mary Kinser is a Collection Development Librarian. By night, she’s a curator for Zoobean. And all around the clock she’s the mother of a gorgeous five-year-old boy from Ethiopia, lovingly nicknamed Sprout. She writes about diversity and adoption in children’s literature at her blog Sprout’s Bookshelf. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and pinning all things kidlit at Pinterest.


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19. Weekend Links: Multicultural Books Links for Kids

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Summers are so crazy-busy-hectic for our family, and I am sure we are not the only ones. I will have to say that we all take great comfort in being able to “power down” after a busy day of being outside or participating in activities and snuggle up with a good book or a great article that inspires us to want to try something new. This week I have discovered a plethora of fabulous ideas and here are some of my top picks:


The Read Around the World Summer Series is going strong over at Multicultural Kids Blog (use hastag #ReadtheWorldMKB on Twitter to find more awesome multicultural reads) and there’s been some delightful contributions to this event this week:

Read Around The World Summer Series

The Story of “Ibong Adarna” – SMART TINKER

Learn the Swahili Alphabet with Jambo Means Hello at Look! We’re Learning!

Learn the Swahili Alphabet - Look! We're Learning!

Bedtime routines around the world at Aisha the Indian Princess

We did one too! Here is Jump Into a Book’s contribution to the Read Around the World Summer Series.

MKB Summer Reading


Jump Into a Book also welcomed a very special guest post from Mary at Sprout’s Bookshelf for the Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza: Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke {Guest Post by Sprout’s Bookshelf}


Becky over at Kid World Citizen called my attention to a wonderful cause this week too. Every 500 views they donate a special indestructible soccer ball to a community in need! Click here for more details.

MKB One World Futbol World Cup Giveaway: Help Needy Kids Worldwide with the Power of Play

What great links have you found this week?

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20. If you were Me and Lived in…by Carole P. Roman {Guest Post from Squishable Baby}

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I received a copy of this series in exchange for a thorough and honest review. The opinions stated herein are 100% my own. This post contains an affiliate link.




Do you like going on trips, getting packed up, and discovering new and exciting things? I certainly do. I love meeting new people, learning a new language and experiencing new food!

Here is a way of doing all that and more – minus the packing up and getting on a plane part!

Before we go, how about we make a passport to keep track of all the new places we venture to? Don’t forget to grab your passports and put it in your suitcase. We are going to need it since we are going on a trip around the world!

Carole P. Roman’s new series, If you were Me and Lived in… is a child’s journey around the world. It’s a fun way of learning about different customs, including those from France, Portugal, Russia, Australia, Turkey, India, Kenya, Norway, and South Korea.

When you first open the book, your child will see a map of the country and it’s capital city. Then, it will show him/her where it is located on the globe. The author then gives information a child would be interested in, such as – friends names, what they would eat when they visit, what you would call your mom and dad, popular places to visit, and special holidays and happenings. In the back of each book, it hows how to pronounce each word – so they can say it correctly!

All of the books in this series are interactive. It asks questions…

When Daddy tucks in at night, you always say; “Amo-te paizinho (a-mo-te pa-i-nho)

Can you guess what you are saying to your pai (pay)?

In the list of definitions in the back, it will give your child the answer.

For my family, these books were a great jumping off point for acquiring further information. In the book on France, the author talked a bit about Bastille Day. So, from there, we talked about the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette. I don’t know about your kids, but my kids love to learn about a good beheading.


If you are adventurous in the kitchen, the author talks about the food your child will experience. If you look up some new recipes on the internet, it will add value to the experience. In the book on Kenya, she talks about Chapati being served with a barbecue of beef or goat called nyama choma and mixed vegetables. It can be made very simply.


My Children’s Favorite If Your Were Me and Lived In… Book


My children’s favorite book was If You Were Me and Lived in…Kenya. They read it over and over. They immediately identified that all the people in this book were brown, which I thought was very interesting.

We learned all kinds of fascinating things about Kenya! One thing mom liked, most of the toys would be handmade. When we visit Kenya, the kids would be creating their own entertainment by gathering wire, sticks and cloth to make Galimoto. No Nintendo’s, YAY!


Don’t forget to stamp your passport with a drawing of something you learned about the country before you leave. It’s very important so that you child can remember when he or she has been and also make the experience their own!



Exercise with kids



Lisa aka, The Squishable Baby is primarily interested in the educational development of young children. She is a homeschooling mom to 3 and blogs education, health, and picture books. You can catch her on her blog – The Squishable Baby or on Facebook or Pinterest.

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21. Three New Picture Books from Lee & Low Books

The temperature has already started to drop and we’re seeing Halloween candy popping up in the grocery stores, so that means a new batch of books for the fall season! Here are three new picture books out this week. We can’t wait to hear what you think of them!

Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving

lend a hand cover

Ages 6–10 • $17.95 hardcover

Lend a Hand is a collection of fourteen original poems, each emphasizing the compassion and the joy of giving. Representing diverse voices—different ages and backgrounds—the collection shows the bridging of boundaries between people who are often perceived as being different from one another. Written by John Frank and illustrated by London Ladd.

“At once familiar and slightly out of the box, these giving scenes gently suggest that the smallest acts can inspire and achieve great ends.” —Kirkus Reviews

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

little melba and her big trombone

Ages 6–10 • $18.95 hardcover

With three starred reviews (PW, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews), it’s clear that Melba Doretta Liston is “something special”! Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz. Written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison.

“An excellent match of breezy text and dynamic illustrations tells an exhilarating story.”
—starred review, School Library Journal

Twenty-Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank

twenty-two cents cover

Ages 6–10 • $18.95 hardcover

Twenty-two Cents is an inspiring story of economic innovation and a celebration of how one person—like one small loan—can make a positive difference in the lives of many. Written by Paula Yoo and illustrated by Jamel Akib.

“Yoo makes the significance of Yunus’s contributions understandable, relevant, and immediate.” —Publishers Weekly

Filed under: Book News, New Releases Tagged: children's books, diverse books, fall books, fall releases, Melba Doretta Liston, Muhammad Yunus, multicultural books

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22. Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza Series Recap

Our Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza Series has come to an end and we are SO grateful for the participation and wonderful guest posts from our contributors.

I truly feel that that series was a success, and it wouldn’t have been possible without our contributors fun and fresh kidlit book picks and activities. We are already percolating on ideas for next summer’s reading event!

Below is a list of all of the posts links and bloggers who participated and I encourage everyone to take a peek to see if you missed any and re-read and enjoy and favorites. There were SO many great contributions this summer and we will be working feverishly to put these posts into a free downloadable document to share (more details to come on that). :)

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

Shannon Medisky:Stand Tall, But Read All Around

Discover Your World Summer Reading

Leanna @ Multicultural Kids Blog: Read Around The World Summer Series

Read Around The World Summer Series

Unconventional Librarian: Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline Woodson

Shannon Medisky-Dancing Differently:’


Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri: WISH

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Fiesta Fiasco by Ann Whitford Paul {Guest Post by Frances from Discovering the World Through Her Son’s Eyes}

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

If You Were Me and Lived in…by Carole P. Roman {Guest Post from Squishable Baby}

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

Discovering The Cree Culture in America-Wild Berries by Julia Flett Review & Activity! (Guest Post from Felicia at Stanley and Katrina)



Erik at This Kid Reviews: Peter Lerangis’ Seven Wonder series



Cooking with Books: Lucky Birthday Noodles {Guest Post by Jodie from Growing Book by Book}

Mei Mei's Lucky Borthday Noodles

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza: Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke {Guest Post by Sprout’s Bookshelf}

Sprout's Bookshelf


A Peek into Thailand {Guest Post from Stephanie Kammeraad of Mama-Lady Books}

mama-lady books


A Chair for My Mother Book Review & Activity {Guest Post from Vicki Arnold}

A Chair for My Mother

The Magic Poof-A Visit with Author Stephen Hodges.

The Magic Poof

Until next summer, keep “discovering your world” through books!

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23. Recap: Horn Book’s Mind the Gaps Colloquium at Simmons College

On October 11, 2014, I attended a colloquium called Mind the Gaps, hosted by The Horn Book at Simmons College in Boston. There was an all-star line up consisting of Peter Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild), Gene Luen Yang (Boxers and Saints), Andrew Smith (Grasshopper Jungle), and Steve Sheinkin (The Port Chicago 50), to name a few. Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, played a big part in pulling all these folks together for a day.

One of the highlights was the keynote by author/librarian Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (No Crystal Stair). Here’s a snippet from her speech:

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Keynote speaker, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Photo credit: Shara Hardeson

“We are here at Simmons trying to solve this problem while one of the biggest stories in the news is that Apple released a new iPhone. Yet ALA struggles to get a one-minute spot on one network to announce the nation’s most prestigious children’s book awards. Is this our world now? To quote one of my favorite library patrons, ‘Have we dumbed down society so much that what is truly significant is not considered important?’ This conversation is significant. So how do we make it important?”

I participated in was called Publishing for the Gaps. The other panelists were Arthur Levine, publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic but more famously known for bringing Harry Potter to the United States, and Ginee Seo, children’s book director of Chronicle Books. The moderator was Roger Sutton. We covered a lot of ground, from the acquisition process to responding to Roger’s charge that publishers often put out “derivative crap” (Roger’s words, not mine) when it comes to blatantly duplicating what works. This statement was met with Arthur’s vehement defense that he sorely doubted that publishing executives would order their editors to make “more derivative crap!”

While I have been on many panels over the years, what was nice about this one was that the audience of 150 was predominately white. Non-diverse audiences like this usually benefit from hearing about the diversity problem, since some may be hearing about it for the first time. Publishing for the Gaps for me is about publishing the stories about people who are left out, which are most often people of color. I discussed LEE & LOW’s efforts to offer clarity and perspective, to help define the scope of why diversity is met with obstacles across most media channels, and how this remains a society-wide problem.

Arthur Levine, Jason Low

(L-R) Arthur Levine, Jason Low. Photo credit: Shara Hardeson

From the editorial side, the lack of representation can be greatly improved by decision makers who feel a personal stake in publishing diverse books. Ginee, as one of the few Asian American women at an executive level, can and does make a difference. Arthur Levine remarked that it was a part of who he is (as an openly gay and Jewish man) to publish inclusively.

The panel was recorded and is an hour. Note: Since the video is stored on Simmons College’s Google drive you’ll have to log in to view it. I also apologize in advance for the sound quality.

When the colloquium was over, I asked one of the moderators, Nina Lindsay, how she thought the day went. She said, “I was pleased with the colloquium, but feel like we just got the conversation started, then everyone went home. I’m hoping the momentum continues to build on this, and that we don’t all suddenly assume we’re enlightened and part ways.”

Recap of Publishers Weekly Diversity Panel, October 16, 2014

Filed under: Activities and Events, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Fairs/Conventions, recap post Tagged: diversity, multicultural books, Race issues

1 Comments on Recap: Horn Book’s Mind the Gaps Colloquium at Simmons College, last added: 10/22/2014
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24. Mix it up! 15 Books about Kindness and Giving

Today is Mix It Up At Lunch Day, an annual day started by Teaching Tolerance over a decade ago to encourage kindness and reduce prejudice in schools by encouraging students to sit and have lunch with someone new, one day out of the year. Teaching Tolerance offers some great resources to help schools celebrate Mix It Up At Lunch Day, and we thought we’d add our own list of recommended books that encourage kindness, giving, bravery and open-mindedness!

15 Books About Kindness and Giving

  1. Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving written by John Frank and illustrated by London Ladd- A collection of poems showing the many ways individuals can make differences.
  2. Antonio’s Card written by Rigoberto González and illustrated by Cecilia Álvarez – Antonio’s classmates make fun of Leslie, Antonio’s mother’s partner because of her paint-spattered overalls. Antonio decides to make a card for his mother and her partner.
  3. First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch –  Abaani, a Maasai boy, sees a Kikuyu boy, Haki, tending a new fruit and vegetable stall alongside the road and they take an immediate dislike to each other.  A short while later, a dangerous situation arises near Haki’s stall and Abaani and Haki must overcome their differences and work together.
  4. King for a Day written by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Christiane Krömer – Malik wants to become the king of the kite festival, Basant. Using his kite Falcon, Malik becomes the king of Basant! When he sees a bully take a kite from a girl, Malik uses Falcon to give her a nice surprise.
  5. Grandfather Counts written by Andrea Cheng and illustrated by Ange Zheng – Gong Gong, Helen’s grandfather who only speaks Chinese, moves in with her family. Helen is worried about not being able to speak to him. She hears him counting train cars in Chinese, and she reciprocates by showing him how to count in English.
  6. Sam and the Lucky Money written by Karen Chinn and illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu – Sam  receives lucky money–red envelopes called leisees (lay-sees), from his grandparents that he can spend any way he wants. When he doesn’t have enough money to buy what he wants, Sam instead decides to give his money to a homeless man.
  7. Birthday in the Barrio written by Mayra Lazara Dole and illustrated by Tonel – Chavi’s friend Rosario wants to have a quinceñera (sweet 15), but her family can’t afford it. Chavi gathers people in the barrio (neighborhood) and throws Rosario a birthday party in the community center.
  8. Brothers in Hope written by Mary Williams and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie – When eight-year-old Garang’s village in southern Sudan is destroyed, he walks thousands of miles with many other boys to seek safety. The boys face numerous hardships and dangers along the way, but their faith and mutual support help keep the hope of finding a new home alive in their hearts.
  9. Destiny’s Gift written by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and illustrated by Adjoa J. Burrowes – Destiny’s favorite place to be is Mrs. Wade’s bookstore; she helps out every Saturday. When Mrs. Wade tells Destiny she has to close the bookstore, Destiny organizes her community to protest.
  10. Passage to Freedom written by Ken Mochizuki and illustrated by Dom Lee – Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat to Lithuania, helped thousands of Jewish people escape the Holocaust by giving them visas to Japan.
  11. Goldfish and Chrysanthemums  written by Andrea Cheng and illustrated by Michelle Chang – Nancy’s grandmother, Ni Ni, finds out that her childhood home in China is being torn down. After winning two goldfish at the fair, Nancy keeps Ni Ni’s memories of her garden alive by recreating it in their backyard.
  12. Irena’s Jars of Secrets written by Marcia Vaughan and illustrated by Ron Mazellan – Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker, witnesses the injustices committed against Jewish people in Warsaw during WWII. First, she smuggles things they need into the Warsaw ghetto, and then, using false documents, she smuggles Jewish children out of the ghetto. She keeps jars with their information, hoping to reunite them with their families.
  13. Puffling Patrol by Ted and Betsey Lewin – Every April, the Westman Islands off the coast of Iceland become home to hundreds of thousands of puffins, small black-and-white seabirds with colorful bills. When the young puffins, called pufflings, are ready to make their way into the sea, they’re helped by the Puffling Patrol, children who help guide the pufflings to the ocean.
  14. Rent Party Jazz by written William Miller and illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb – Rent day is coming, and Sonny’s mama has lost her job. Sonny isn’t sure what to do, but a jazz musician named Smilin’ Jack hosts a party to help Sonny and his mama raise money for their rent.
  15. Aani and the Tree Huggers written by Jeannine Atkins and illustrated by Venantius J. Pinto – While Aani sits under her favorite tree, she hears men coming in to cut down the trees, despite protest from the women in the village. When the men return to cut the trees, Aani hugs a tree to prevent them from cutting it down, and the rest of the people in her village follow suit, saving the forest.

For more information about Mix It Up at Lunch Day and how to participate, click here!

Filed under: Activities and Events, and Representation, Book Lists by Topic, Diversity 102, Lee & Low Likes Tagged: African/African American Interest, Asian/Asian American, bilingual books, Book Lists by Topic, Children's Book Press, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, LGBT, multicultural books

2 Comments on Mix it up! 15 Books about Kindness and Giving, last added: 10/31/2014
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25. Books to Celebrate and Teach about Adoption

Adoption image

National Adoption Day this November 22 and National Adoption Month this November afford a time to share experiences and reflect on families. Whether you have students who have been adopted or are part of a family considering adopting a child into your home, all children can benefit from learning about adoption. Children are very curious about each other’s families, quick to categorize into groups, and intent to define what makes a family, well, a family.

Picture books provide a medium to discuss, celebrate, and learn about adoption and exploring the definition of “family.”

Book recommendations:

Bringing Asha Home

Journey Home

The Best Thing

Chinatown Adventure

Discussion Questions during and after reading:

  • What does “family” mean to you? How might the word mean something different to people?
  • What does it mean to be adopted? What might be some challenges for a family with an adopted child or for a child who is adopted? What might be some benefits for a family who adopt a child or for a child who is adopted?
  • How is this character’s family similar to and different from your own family?
  • How do this character and family share and have fun together? What do you enjoy doing with your siblings and family members?
  • How does the character feel at the beginning, middle, and end of the story? How does the main character change from the beginning to the end of the story?
  • How would you describe this character’s relationship with his/her parent in the story?


  • Learn more about the country from which the character is adopted. On which continent is the country located? What countries border this country? What language is spoken there? How many people live in that country? Who are some famous people from that country? Find a recipeof a food from this country to make.
  • Share and reflect on this list of famous adoptees or adopters from TeacherVision by Beth Rowen.
  • Draw a family portrait of your own family.
  • Write a paragraph describing what makes your family unique and why you are proud of your family.

Further reading about adoption:

Jill EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, Holidays and Celebrations Tagged: Adoption, children's books, diversity, Educators, holidays, multicultural books, Multiracial, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, Transracial adoption

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